.dØt:: a RotoPlastic Ballet at Pointless Theatre Company

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The system only works if the system comes first.

The system only works if— errør— :://cødΞ does not c-c-compute. There is a GLITCH in the system.

It’s just a glitch. Ignore it. Move on.

It’s just a— .dØt, after all.

The statistical possibility of one little— .dØt— becoming the downfall of the system— why that’s impossible. Isn’t it? Pointless Theatre Company astonishes and amazes with their newest production:  .dØt:: a RotoPlastic Ballet. It’s smart, visually striking, and a massive allegory for a certain situation to which we can all presently relate. What better way to hide a political platform smack dab in the middle of Washington DC than in plain sight? Inspired by the visual world of Fortunato Depero, with the original story conceived by Navid Azeez, Aaron Bliden, Patti Kalil, and Matt Reckeweg, this dynamically mesmerizing piece of puppet-centric theatre will blow your mind. There’s no simpler way to phrase it. .dØt is astonishing in every sense of the word.

Allow me to introduce you to the last living human on earth: Navi (Navid Azeez). Not throwing away his shot, Azeez is the Lin-Manuel Miranda of The District with his dope musical theatre rapping capabilities. Dropping beats, rhymes, and rhythms that defy description and utterly astound as they flip from his lip to the beat of the neo-futuristic soundscape, fabricated and composed by Mike Winch, Azeez creates the world in which .dØt exists. His rapping skills, pattering to perfection, are something to be envied and he could easily hold his own in a rap-n-patter-off with the infamous Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is credited for birthing that style of musicality into the theatrical world.

Azeez’ lyrics are smart— listen carefully and closely. Take note of what’s being said. You’ll get the bigger picture in a hurry, if you’re not too distracted by the wondrous wonders that the design team has crafted all around the intimate little puppet box stage. The aforementioned Mike Winch teams up with Nick Wilby, guised in futuristic space suits, and serves as the live onstage band, enhancing and augmenting Winch’s galaxy-laden compositions. As if the soundscape weren’t enough to sweep you away into this post-human-existence, the visuals are striking. Set Designer and Director Matt Reckeweg has put the white tiers of a proper puppet theatre into place so that Puppet Design Master Patti Kalil can work her magic. Illuminating this magic, Lighting Designer E-Hui Woo highlights all of the wild and zany things that await the audience once .dØt gets underway.

There is a dizzying disorientation between animated projections, designed by Projectionist Lauren Joy, and Kalil’s puppetry magnificence. Almost childlike and simultaneously from a world light years ahead of us, these hinged paper-like puppets are saturated with color and appear to move like Joy’s animations do. Or perhaps Joy’s animations move the way Kalil’s puppets do— it’s impossible to say. The hypnotic wonder of this performance is the off-balancing factor that could easily keep the audience from fully recognizing what’s happening as the story progresses through all eight musical movements. These splendiferous puppets must be seen to be believed and no amount of textual description could ever hope to do them justice. (If you’d like to support their justice, however, you can Sponsor a Puppet by clicking here.)

Masterfully moved about through the tiers in Reckeweg’s set design, a team of Puppeteers— Rebecca Ballinger, Frank Cevarich, Madeline Key, Sadie Leigh, Sydney Lo, Matt Sparacino, Matt Strote, Scott Whalen— animates each of the components of the machine, each of the cogs of the system. Most aptly called a ballet, where these paper-appearing, plastic-molded robots roll through their daily grind, the team of Puppeteers are Frankensteins in their own right— creating life from nothing and making live animation from inanimate objects. The whole experience is delightfully disorienting.

Watch the plot carefully; if you are able to pull your focus out of the deliberately dizzying and mystifying circus of visual and aural stimuli. This in itself— as conceived by Azeez, Bliden, Kalil, and Reckeweg— is a beautifully symbolic representation of what has happened in the nation’s capital. Dazzled and ensnared by spectacle it was easy to miss what was really happening, wasn’t it? Because what were the chances that a single, little glitch could overthrow the system so easily? Remarkable and the most brilliant thing to take to their stage since Doctor Caligari, this absurdly impressive show simply cannot be missed.

Running Time: Approximately 45 minutes with no intermission

.dØt:: a RotoPlastic Ballet plays through May 6, 2017 with Pointless Theatre Company in the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint DC—916 G Street NW in Washington, DC. Tickets are available for purchase at the door and for purchase in advance online.

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